NBA Draft Rumors: Who Does Chad Ford Have Climbing Up Draft Boards?

Michael PleshaCorrespondent IIIJune 20, 2011

NBA Draft Rumors: Who Does Chad Ford Have Climbing Up Draft Boards?

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    The 2011 NBA Draft is right around the corner and NBA teams are conducting their final evaluations of the players in the draft class.  The lead up to the NBA Draft is always stressful for the athletes waiting to be selected but exciting at the same time.

    From the end of the college basketball season a lot has changed, with some players gaining popularity, while others watched their stock plummet.  Here are five players who ESPN's NBA Draft guru Chad Ford believes are on the rise as the draft quickly approaches.

5. Darius Morris, PG, Michigan

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    Since he first declared for the draft, Darius Morris has seen his stock jump all over the place.  The 2011 NBA Draft is full of talented point guards but Morris offers something a little bit different.  

    At 6’5” Morris towers over most of the other point guards, which he uses to his advantage when running his team’s offense.  Morris has extremely good court vision and is a terrific defender.

    NBA teams have been very impressed with Morris during his individual workouts, and many teams value his ability to defend both guard positions. Now a player who at one point might not have been drafted at all is likely to be taken in the late first round.

4. Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence

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    At Providence Marshon Brooks did everything on offense for his team.  Brooks would be a welcomed addition to any playoff team looking for some more fire power off the bench. 

    However, now it looks like Brooks might not make it out of the lottery.  He has surprised many teams with his ability to do other things well, besides score the basketball. 

    At 22, Brooks doesn’t quite have the upside of some of the younger guys in the draft. But for teams looking to make a run in the 2011 season, Brooks is a great option because he can help you win now.

3. Nikola Vucevic, C, USC

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    The 2011 draft is lacking in terms of big men that actually play like big men. But Nikola Vucevic is one of the exceptions.  At 7’0” and 260 pounds, Vucevic comes into the NBA with a grown man’s body and can bang in the paint with the NBA’s best. 

    Vucevic was once thought of as a borderline first-round pick, but now there is speculation that he could go near the end of the lottery.  With so many foreign big men playing like guards, Vucevic’s value has gone up because of his physical style of play, which he displayed in his individual workouts.

2. Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU

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    During much of the 2010 college basketball season, Jimmer Fredette was the talk of his town. Mainly due to his ability to score in bunches from anywhere on the court.  When he declared for this year’s draft, many scouts focused on the few negative aspects of his game and not the numerous positives. 

    Now that the draft is right around the corner, teams are remembering what Jimmer did over the course of the 2010 season and want him on their teams.  With the possibility of so many guards getting drafted in the lottery, there is speculation that a few teams might try and trade up to grab Fredette. 

    Whichever team selects him knows their getting a tremendous person who is an even better basketball player.

1. Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State

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    Playing three seasons of basketball in Pullman, Washington, Klay Thompson did not get a lot of attention.  Now that the draft is just a few days away, NBA executives definitely have noticed Thompson. 

    He is undoubtedly one of the best shooters in the draft, with range beyond the NBA three-point line.  Thompson is also very long, which will help him when trying to defend the quick guards in the NBA. 

    A couple months ago, Thompson was a late first-round pick, but now he is almost a lock for the lottery.  With his size, shooting ability and high basketball IQ, Thompson should have a long career in the NBA.